GVSU cross country teams sweep regional meet

<p></p>

On Saturday, the Grand Valley State men’s and women’s cross country teams again lived up to their No. 1 ranking by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Both Laker squads came away with regional championships — the women recorded their 15th straight regional title, while the men notched their 14th straight title.

“We did very well today, both teams executed the race plan very well,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “This is really great for our kids and our program, but we need to keep the momentum going and keep working hard, these next two weeks are the most important. I am very proud of the kids and the progress we have made so far.”

The Laker women edged GLIAC foe Hillsdale by a mere 18 points to capture the regional crown. GVSU finished with 45 points, placing five runners in the top 20 finishers, as the Chargers recorded 63 points.

GLIAC Freshman of the Year Gina Patterson turned in another team-leading performance — a feat that has become more of an expectation than surprise in 2015. Patterson finished in second-place overall, crossing the finish line with a time of 20:24.58 on the 6K course — a mere five seconds before Hillsdale’s Emily Oren.

Last season’s individual national champion Kendra Foley finished in sixth place, and senior Jess Janecke strolled across in eighth place, marking the third Laker runner in the top 10.

Senior Jordan Chester raced to a 12th-place finish and junior Amy Cruetz finished in 17th.

Patterson, Foley, Janecke, Chester and Cruetz all placed in the top 20, earning them All-Region honors. Sophomore Kelly Haubert finished in 22nd place, and sophomore Jenna Klynstra rolled across in 38th to help the Lakers secure the regional title.

“We worked very well as a team today. We were all very supportive of each other and accomplished the goal that we had,” Cruetz said. “A win like this builds us up and gets us ready to go for the national championship meet in a couple of weeks so we can do something great while we are there.

“We have a great coaching staff that knows how to get the full potential out of all of us.”

GVSU’s men took home a commanding victory. The Lakers recorded 43 points, a whopping 79 ahead of second-place finisher Southern Indiana.

Six runners achieved All-Region honors for the GVSU men with top-25 finishes. As with the women’s race, the Lakers were led by their GLIAC Freshman of the Year. Zach Panning, the award’s winner, finished in fifth place as the first Laker to cross the finish line.

Junior Chris May finished less than a second behind Panning in sixth place. Sophomore Wuoi Mach was the third consecutive Laker to cross the finish line, slotting in at seventh place to notch three runners in the top 10 for GVSU.

Senior Kyle Flores came in 12th place, and close behind him, Trevor Sharnas and Brady Selner finished in 13th and 15th, respectively, for the Lakers. Panning, May, Mach, Flores, Sharnas and Selner were All-Region recipients for the GVSU men.

Junior Mitch Wilkins rounded out the scoring for the Lakers with a 32nd-place finish.

“We ran together very well as a unit, and achieved our goal of staying healthy,” Sharnas said. “We did very well to set us up for the national championship meet in a couple of weeks. We are feeling very confident knowing that we still have a lot left in the tank for the big meet in a couple of weeks.

“We really wanted to make sure that we stayed focused, and used this meet as a business trip, making sure that we take care of business, so we can be ready and achieve the goal that we set our minds on at the beginning of the season.”

The Lakers will be back in action on Nov. 21 at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Joplin, Missouri. The Laker women are looking for their fourth straight championship, and the Laker men are looking for their first title in school history.